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What Concourse Setup Works Best?  
User currently offlineLHCVG From United States of America, joined May 2009, 1614 posts, RR: 2
Posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4547 times:

Assuming land is not an issue, is the best option to do one long mega-concourse like DTW's big one, KIX, etc., or an ATL-type arrangement with many small concourses in a line out from the terminal? I'm assuming that a single terminal leading to all concourses instead of a JFK setup. I ask because on the one hand the DTW model seems very efficient and best for minimizing connection times for pax, but then again, it increases the probably of granny walking past the DL gates to the UA gates by mistake and missing her flight. The ATL-type arrangement might mitigate this by ideally making it so DL is A, UA is B, AA is C, etc., but I'm not the expert.

20 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinepgh234 From United States of America, joined Jul 2001, 796 posts, RR: 1
Reply 1, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 17 hours ago) and read 4505 times:

PIT!

The X-shape and moving walkways are widely recognized as one of the most efficient layouts for a hub. There is never a need to change terminals and walking distances are no where near what you would find in ATL or DTW.

Alas...PIT currently sits almost empty...


User currently offlinesurfandsnow From United States of America, joined Jan 2009, 2897 posts, RR: 31
Reply 2, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4382 times:

Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
is the best option to do one long mega-concourse like DTW's big one, KIX, etc.

This seems to be a very popular design for modern-day connecting hubs - UA at DEN, NW/DL at DTW, AA's new MIA terminal, EK at DXB, etc. For local pax, the walks to gates can be a nightmare, but connecting pax usually love these layouts - very hard to get lost!

Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
I'm assuming that a single terminal leading to all concourses instead of a JFK setup.

Actually, I have a feeling the airlines just love the LAX/JFK/LHR layout - they maintain so much control over their departure areas and can keep competition out. This is also great because everyone is more spread out, and terminals are much smaller and friendlier. Imagine what a mess JFK would be if it was one centralized terminal! Of course, such a terminal would be inter-airline transfers a lot easier, but again, the airlines would much rather have you keep flying them than transfer to somebody else!

Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
it increases the probably of granny walking past the DL gates to the UA gates by mistake and missing her flight.

RSW is the classic example of a modern terminal built with granny in mind. Everything in one terminal, but you have several smaller concourses (instead of one really long one) to keep the walking to a minimum.

Quoting LHCVG (Thread starter):
The ATL-type arrangement might mitigate this by ideally making it so DL is A, UA is B, AA is C, etc., but I'm not the expert.

Yes, ATL and DEN have to have multiple linear concourses - one big one would be totally impractical.

Quoting pgh234 (Reply 1):
PIT!

The X-shape and moving walkways are widely recognized as one of the most efficient layouts for a hub.

I've never been, but I've heard PIT is fantastic. Too bad you can't fly there now unless you are actually going to Pittsburgh!



Flying in the middle seat of coach is much better than not flying at all!
User currently offlineLHCVG From United States of America, joined May 2009, 1614 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4371 times:

Quoting surfandsnow (Reply 2):
Actually, I have a feeling the airlines just love the LAX/JFK/LHR layout - they maintain so much control over their departure areas and can keep competition out. This is also great because everyone is more spread out, and terminals are much smaller and friendlier. Imagine what a mess JFK would be if it was one centralized terminal! Of course, such a terminal would be inter-airline transfers a lot easier, but again, the airlines would much rather have you keep flying them than transfer to somebody else!

All true. The reason I excluded that is because I wanted to avoid the debates over whether multiple terminals are better, because that would make the concourse discussion moot. But yes I'm sure the airlines do love it. I guess too I should have mentioned the obvious that a place like MCO (even though it has one terminal, the concourses are arranged such that it basically is like going between terminals) is great for an O&D airport, but horrible for connecting, but that each model can have it's place.


User currently offlineairfrnt From United States of America, joined Jul 2004, 2827 posts, RR: 42
Reply 4, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4310 times:

Midfield concourses work the best for large connecting hubs. Walk to gate scenarios ala San Diego and even worse KCI are convenient for passengers, but horrific as a hub. Everything else falls between the two extremes.

User currently offlineEnviroTO From Canada, joined Aug 2004, 828 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 4272 times:

I agree that PIT was a great hub layout and I loved flying through there except for the fact that it seemed everyone had status at that airport. ATL style concourses are likely more efficient from an aircraft perspective though. A single terminal is more efficient and unlike multi-terminal layouts handle airline growth and declines better since facilities are shared. With a multiple terminal layout like JFK airlines do have more control but are more likely to have more or less terminal than they actually need.

User currently offlineDCA-ROCguy From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 4514 posts, RR: 34
Reply 6, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4159 times:

A favorite A.net chestnut, always fun to discuss.

It depends on the kind of traffic the airport has. Generally concourses extending from terminals, a la LAX, are better for airports that are mostly O & D. At those airports you want to minimize walking for people arriving and departing that airport. Long mega-concourses in rows, a la ATL and DEN, are better for hub airports. At those airports, quickly and efficiently getting people between planes is most important.

A really interesting book on airport terminal design is "The Airport Passenger Terminal" by Walter Hart (New York: Wiley Interscience, 1985). It's dated, from the mid 80's, but has lots of diagrams and information. By then the science of terminal design had developed, but it was somewhat boring--then all about efficiency and tight use of space. The 90's sense of grand space hadn't come along yet.

Jim

[Edited 2010-04-09 22:43:53]


Need a new airline paint scheme? Better call Saul! (Bass that is)
User currently offlineAntoniemey From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 1592 posts, RR: 4
Reply 7, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4142 times:

All I know is that from the standpoint of the guy working the ramp, the layout at BNA SUCKS. If you have a plane at A-1 you can't use B-3... B-3 is the hardest gate to push a plane from, so naturally DL schedules the 757s into there... And prior to it being closed, D had the worst... the doors to the ramp were all facing C, but the ramp traffic roadway ran right past D AND it faced C-4... so all the planes had to park at the end of the concourse, which meant that no matter what gate you used, you were walking along the side of the building outside to get to your plane...

I think the place was designed by drunken monkeys.

Personally, from the same perspective (guy working the ramp) I like the DEN/ATL set up... as a passenger I like the A section of DEN, but prefer IAH's C, D, & E... big so you can have lots of flights, but unless you have to go catch COEx, you don't generally have to walk too far.



Make something Idiot-proof, and the Universe will make a more inept idiot.
User currently offlinebillreid From Netherlands, joined Jun 2006, 1019 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 15 hours ago) and read 4116 times:

Quoting pgh234 (Reply 1):
RSW is the classic example of a modern terminal built with granny in mind. Everything in one terminal, but you have several smaller concourses (instead of one really long one) to keep the walking to a minimum.

Get serious RSW is about 99.95% short of being a hub?
If you want to go small then forget RSW and go real real small, use a box or a trailer like at William's Gateway.

DTW is terrible for pax, it goes on and on and on.
ATL, DEN and others force you to use a rail system.
SFO would be ok because its a single terminal concept, except of having to re-clear the TSA bozos when changing concourses is a pain. Same goes for BOS.

If you want a nice concept, look at CPH, MUC or AMS.
Both MUC and AMS are great as a real hubs.
CPH is very very nice as a medium sized airport.

In north america YVR is probably the smartest concept, when designing the new terminal they visited many airports and reviewed what works and what doesn't. Then they built, pretty smart if you ask me.



Some people don't get it. Business is about making MONEY!
User currently offlineTSS From United States of America, joined Dec 2006, 3070 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4038 times:

Quoting billreid (Reply 8):
DTW is terrible for pax, it goes on and on and on.

Agreed.

Quoting billreid (Reply 8):
ATL, DEN and others force you to use a rail system.

Which is a huge drag! Also, the parking area at DEN is only convenient to one terminal.

Quoting billreid (Reply 8):
In north america YVR is probably the smartest concept, when designing the new terminal they visited many airports and reviewed what works and what doesn't. Then they built, pretty smart if you ask me.

  
Maybe the image I found of YVR is out of date, but in an aerial view YVR appears to have started off as a widened "X" terminal layout that was randomly and meanderingly expanded several times toward the North. While I can understand having to work with what you've got due to money and space constraints, I wouldn't have called YVR's layout a shining example of good terminal design. In fact, the way the concourses seem to sprout off in random directions reminds me very much of LHR.

Quoting Antoniemey (Reply 7):
(I) prefer IAH's C, D, & E... big so you can have lots of flights, but unless you have to go catch COEx, you don't generally have to walk too far.

As do I. The easternmost terminal at PHX is basically the same design as IAH, with parking in the middle of the terminals, the terminals in between and parallel to the runways, and concourses perpendicular to the terminals so the walk from one concourse to another when connecting isn't too long. Also, this simple, straightforward terminal design is easy to expand: Just extend the terminal(s) at either end and add concourses and additional parking structures as needed



Able to kill active threads stone dead with a single post!
User currently offlineosubuckeyes From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 798 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 14 hours ago) and read 4016 times:

While ATL, DEN, and DTW are really easy due to the midfield terminal layout, I think that PHX works really well in combining O and D passengers with connecting passengers. Its not too far to walk curb to gate especially when in terminals 2 or 3, and connecting in 4 is not as bad compared to some other aiports such as MSP, ORD, DFW where it seems like you just walk for ever. Having said that PIT is definitely the best layout but unfortunately it is no longer a hub.

User currently offlinewilsonleiser From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 5 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 3922 times:

Quoting billreid (Reply 8):

If you want a nice concept, look at CPH, MUC or AMS.
Both MUC and AMS are great as a real hubs.
CPH is very very nice as a medium sized airport.

Agreed. Those are exactly the airports that came to mind. AMS is extremely efficient and predictable as far as connecting times. These are by far the top 3 airports I've been to.


User currently offlineairbazar From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 8559 posts, RR: 10
Reply 12, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 3716 times:

Quoting billreid (Reply 8):
DTW is terrible for pax, it goes on and on and on.
ATL, DEN and others force you to use a rail system.
Quoting billreid (Reply 8):
Both MUC and AMS are great as a real hubs.
CPH is very very nice as a medium sized airport.

I don't disagree entirely however, DTW goes on and on as much as AMS or MUC if you're unlucky to have to connect between 2 flights at opposite ends of the airport   Sometimes I wish AMS had a rail system to connect from concourse B or C all the way to E or F. I've walked that a few times and it's a looooooong walk. At MUC, once I arrived at one of the gates at one end to connect to a US bound flight at the complete opposite end of the terminal.
Although I love MUC and AMS alike I think the mid field concourse design like DEN and ATL and IAD is best suited for a large hub. In fact that's exactly where MUC is headed. Although it gives the appearance of 2 seperate terminals it functions very much like ATL or DEN or IAD except connecting from T1 to T2 is not as convenient. In the future I wouldn't be surprised to see them add another parallel concourse/terminal.


User currently offlineLufthansa411 From Germany, joined Jan 2008, 692 posts, RR: 1
Reply 13, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 3623 times:

My vote is for TXL. It is designed purely for O&D, although that makes it perfect for the city. Most of the time, I can go from sitting on the a/c to sitting on the TXL express bus in about 3 minutes. It's really a dream. Plus, with the individual gates, you can clear security just before boarding time, which you can see through the glass windows. Absolutely amazing design.

To bad it will soon close.  
Quoting billreid (Reply 8):
If you want a nice concept, look at CPH, MUC or AMS.
Both MUC and AMS are great as a real hubs.
CPH is very very nice as a medium sized airport.

I would agree. It is not a coincidence that these airports usually win all sorts of awards for their design. They are simply laid out, which makes for a simple way of figuring out where you need to go, even when you are pressed for time.



Nothing in life is to be feared; it is only to be understood.
User currently offlineweb500sjc From United States of America, joined Sep 2009, 749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (4 years 7 months 2 weeks 17 hours ago) and read 3344 times:
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I am about to light off a firestorm but, I thInk T5 at LHR ( just T5) is a good lay out, you don't have to move far everything is all in one place- up untill you are about to board, which by that time you have everything done.

Another good airport would be IND, or DEN: I wouldn't put ATL in that catagory, it is just too crowded cramped and hard a place to get around (although it might be just my luck that my flight always gets in at the end of one concourse and then I connect to a flight that is at the end of another concourse.

PHL I would say is not one of the best airport configs, it seams chaotic and dingey. At CDG, although I do like T1, it is a complete mess, as opposed to Tye other 6 or 7 terminals collectively called T2, which I despise but is very practical for their job.



Boiler Up!
User currently offlinefaro From Egypt, joined Aug 2007, 1568 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 7 months 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 3133 times:

On the technical side, what concourse layout gives the maximum number of gates (or pax capacity) per unit of paved apron area? Some layouts seem very wasteful of concrete like DFW.

Faro



The chalice not my son
User currently offlinecloudboy From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 845 posts, RR: 0
Reply 16, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 2666 times:

I am not convinced that DEN is as great as it is often made out to be. It might be space efficient, but there is a problem with the multi-linear concourse design - it takes forever to get to your gate. For those people who aren't frequent flies, have tight connections, or just plain get easily confused it is a royal pain. There is nothing to differentiate one gate from the other, or even one concourse from another. And while it is all nice and open and airy, it's rather, well, dull. DTW is even worse in this - I often end up three fourths of the way down one end of the terminal and my connection is three fourths the way at the other end. And you dont know whether it is more efficient to take the tram or just hoof it. Den doesn't have too many tie-ups from planes having to wait to leave the gate while another is towed out, but this happens all the time in ATL.

I know it is less efficient, but I like the pier-style terminals better.



"Six becoming three doesn't create more Americans that want to fly." -Adam Pilarski
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21791 posts, RR: 55
Reply 17, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 2412 times:

Quoting cloudboy (Reply 16):
Den doesn't have too many tie-ups from planes having to wait to leave the gate while another is towed out, but this happens all the time in ATL.

This is just because of more ramp space between concourses. At DEN, you can push a plane back from the gate and not have it interfere with aircraft taxiing behind. That's not the case at ATL, so you might have to wait.

That's going to be true regardless of what setup you use - the more space between concourses (or piers, or whatever), the less time you'll have to spend waiting for other aircraft to clear so that you can get to or from your gate.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineweb500sjc From United States of America, joined Sep 2009, 749 posts, RR: 0
Reply 18, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2303 times:
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Quoting cloudboy (Reply 16):
I know it is less efficient, but I like the pier-style terminals better.

if you want a pier system that is a mess Try LAX, that was an airport where the piers are to close
together. I once arrived on the ground 15min early but was 40 min late due to aircraft having to be pushed back and then us having to get in.



Boiler Up!
User currently offline88Wayz From United States of America, joined May 2010, 3 posts, RR: 0
Reply 19, posted (4 years 6 months 1 week 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 2174 times:

As an outsider looking in, I guess it would really depend on the size of the operation as to what setup works the best. I reckon that the main source of ire for ATL is that it is so busy. Having said that, I loved the setup at DTW's WorldGateway (McNamara Terminal?)...it had a tram inside the building, which I suppose is needed when the terminal's a mile or so long. Seemed very efficient to me, for those who needed to catch flights out of that terminal. Never did have to go over to (what I believe is) the B terminal, so I can't speak for connections from there to either the McNamara or the NW regional terminal.

The one that never made sense to me was CVG...having to go outside and get on buses to drive you to other parts of the airport (PHL is like this too)...soon as the bus gets held up by a taxiing/pushing aircraft, the passengers get held up from making their connections. On the one hand, I suppose it'd be cool for the passengers to see all that stuff out on the apron up close and personal, but I can't imagine running all those buses all over the tarmac would be all that efficient, cost-wise.

Which brings me to PIT...former workplace of mine. Probably the most efficient set-up I've seen stateside. One tram, from the landside terminal to the airside X. (Many people tend to forget the USAir regional terminal that sits up there on the B/C side of the X.) From the ramper's perspective, it was also quite efficient, as the tunnel that ran from the bag room out to airside ran right up under that regional terminal...which now probably has a bunch of rats running around inside of it. Such a shame that airport is close to a ghost town now.


User currently offlineusscvr From United States of America, joined Jan 2010, 69 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (4 years 6 months 9 hours ago) and read 1791 times:
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One of the most practical rules of any business, widgets or airlines, is that it is less expensive to keep a customer than it is to conquest, or recapture, a customer. Having said that, I feel that it has more to do with exclusivity and branding than pax conveniences - although I am sure pax convenience certainly plays a part in the design.

Using UA at ORD for example, when pax depart a UA flight into the terminal, unless they leave the terminal they remain in a UA branded area. Exclusivity and branding pays dividends for future customer pay opportunities.


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